I recently dawned on me that we had actually completed our first official year of homeschooling! It was challenging, occasionally frustrating, time consuming, and totally worth it. We did a lot of really fun stuff this year, and I wish I would have taken more pictures. So, I want to share some of our highlights, what went right, what went wrong, what I’ve learned, and how I’m going to change things for our upcoming year.
Let’s see… test my memory by giving you a brief snapshot of our year… we did Horizon math K-mid way into grade 2 (math is his easy subject), Burton reading (Cory is now at a mid 1st grade reading level), Revolutionary War, Apologia space curriculum, Science 4 Real geology, weather (kinda put that one together with library books), plants & animals, senses, food pyramid, geography (map reading, directions, distances, and whatnot), Learning About God kindergarten Bible curriculum, continents and oceans, Native Americans (making brown paper bag pictographs is awesome).
I think that’s it. If I forgot anything they I don’t either of us retained any of it. So let’s start with what went right…
First up, hands on activities were a big hit!
It’s safe to say that Cory knows his layers of the Earth. It’s okay to get dirty. Something I had to remind myself whenever I felt the hesitation to do something I know wouldn’t be super neat.
Along with that is, for the most part, I tried to go with what he was interested in. This kid looooves him some science and I took advantage of the space phase. I’m not ashamed to admit he know the names and order of the planets before counting by 10s.
We used a charts when we could. For weather tracking, moon phases, clouds, plants. The more he had to enter in information in, the more it sank in. I believe this was a big factor in his learning and retaining information about clouds. He’ll still tell me what kinds of clouds are out.
There are posters and big activities on just about every available wall/door space I could find. If there was a poster I wanted to use, or something we did to reinforce a concept, I tried to put it up somewhere so he would see it all the time. In fact, this count by 10s vine has helped Aiden too.
Aiden and Lela did less this year, and hands on is the way to go with these too. They weren’t always cooperative and being flexible was a necessity. Rarely did they want to do some awesome activity I had spent a bunch of time on. Example… I made a pompom tube system out of toilet paper rolls on the wall in the dining room. Yeah that lasted about 5 minutes before Lela tore all the tubes off the wall. Oh well.
Don’t get me wrong, not everything worked.
This is the Rise and Shine Binder. I was really proud of this guy. It had reading comprehension sheets, math work, sight words, all kinds of goodies. The original purpose of this little wonder was to start off the day with a routine and get the brain going. What actually happened was he spent like an hour on this and threw the whole schedule off. This might come back in the future when all the kids are doing school and maybe I need to start with Lela and the other two can do this. It was pretty cool while it lasted and it did get Cory excited to work.
We hit some pretty big road blocks with math. Sometimes Cory would fly through four pages a day, then for days at a time it was like pulling teeth. He’d be sitting at his table till dinner. I had a hard time finding the right way to motivate him, how to inspire him, and when to back off and not fight it. We took a break from math for a week or so. I tried to always encourage him because he was so darn good at it, but sometimes I got mad when he would drag his feet because I knew how good he is at it! I felt bad for the times I got on his case, but I kept trying my best to give him positive support. One day he went from “adding makes me sleepy” to loving it! We still have times where it takes him longer than it should, and I made the workload a little lighter, but we don’t fight about it much anymore.
So what did I learn and what will we be doing different?
First up, schedule schedule schedule! We are going to stick to our schedule best we can! I know sometimes things happen and we need to be flexible, but I really want to teach the kids time management and discipline in this area. We’re going to be doing a lot more this next year.
So much copying… every weekend I would have to sit down and copy/print everything for the next week. Sometimes I forgot stuff. Since we’re starting a year round academic calendar I plan on doing all the paperwork for the upcoming session during the week between. I’ll also gather up all supplies for any projects into bags of a milk crate so I can just grab them. I think we’ll do more projects since I’ll have everything ready.
Better workspace… we are beyond blessed to have a room at the front of the house that is just perfect for homeschooling. However, we’re pretty terrible about keeping it neat and organized. Now I’m not talking about spotless, we have kids for crying out loud, but everything having a place and making sure everything gets back to the right place every day. I’ve started using milk crates for curriculum and art supplies which I’ll be making cushioned seats for. Subjects that have worksheets have their own big ol’ 3 ring binder and are all together on a bookshelf. There’s a little plastic three drawer organizer on a bookshelf giving each kid a drawer to put their work at the end of the day. I’m not done yet, but the idea is there. A big part has been clearing all the toys out of this room to minimize distraction.
I’m really excited about the coming year! Another snapshot includes Institute for Excellence in Writing Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, Burton Beyond, Horizon math (finishing grade 2 and who knows how far we’ll get!), Apologia chemistry and physics (no joke, he asked for this one), Spanish, All About Spelling, Center for Literature Teaching the Classics (yes, a 1st grader can learn literary analysis), Music Appreciation (does a composers study combined with other music information), ARTistic Pursuits (teaches art through the eyes of famous artists), The Mystery in History Creation to the Resurrection (combines world history and Biblical history and makes a huge timeline!), Firmly Planted Family Devotionals, and Learning About God 1st grade curriculum. I know more will be added. Also I’m starting Aiden on Burton Reading and Horizons K math. He’ll probably fly through it. Lela will work on those fundamentals or colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. I want to have her involved or around more when I do lessons with the boys because I know she’s bound to pick things up.
I know this sounds like a lot, and sometimes I look at my lesson planner and think what the heck did I get myself into, but I know God led us down this path and I can have confidence that we’re going the right way. I make sure to check in with Him frequently. He’s brought some pretty amazing homeschooling moms alongside me this year that I’m over the moon grateful for.
It’s going to be a great year!! Well, challenging, occasionally frustrating, and time consuming… but totally worth it!